What The Carrot?!- A Silage Experiment from KM Farms
Kent Rochester is making hay when the sun shines... Or to be more accurate, making silage while the moisture content is right! Sileage is pasture that has been cut while still green and at its most nutrient dense stage, then baled and left to ferment.
The lactic acid bacteria that convert the green pasture into sileage need an anaerobic environment to work their magic, so the bales are sealed up to allow fermentation to take place – think sauerkraut, but for cows!
Sileage is made and used for a couple of reasons. In our Southwestern Australian environment, most of our pasture growth is in the warmer spring period, so there is an abundance of feed at that time of the year. Autumn is when there is generally scarce feed on the ground.
By cutting fodder when there is an abundance and preserving it for times when feed is less available, stock can be carried through the autumn period. After the first autumn rains in around April or May, when the grass is just starting to get growing again, it is quite high in water and low in fiber, which can cause scouring in ruminant animals (diahorrea), which slows their ability to turn grass into muscle.
By feeding sileage and some straw alongside fresh green feed, the extra protein and roughage balance out the grass and make for happy cows who continue to gain weight.
Now, where do the carrots come in? We really love to see what innovations our farmers come up with, and this one is no exception.
Kent came across a load of carrot seconds on Facebook, and thought, why not! Carrots are a great cow food, high in sugar, are a good energy source, and low in protein to complement other high protein parts of their diet.
He had them delivered into his shed, which just happened to be at the time when they were cutting silage. He could either feed them out quickly, as they wouldn’t have lasted long in the shed, or bale them up and see what happens! He put them into the spreader, which chopped them up into bite sized chunks (whole carrots can be a choking hazard for cattle) and spread them across his silage rows. They let the silage dry out a bit, to balance the excess moisture in the carrots, before baling them up.
Kent is planning on getting some feed tests done, to see how the silage nutrition stacks up. We are looking forward to unwrapping day in a few weeks' time – we imagine it will be a bit like cow Christmas!